Monday, 18 May 2015

Multifarious Thiru

Thiru Kumaran oscillates from being Jester to Thinker to Hard-Worker, and back. His huge, cheeky, goofy grin, jokes and laid back mien belie his discipline, determination and ability to keep his nose to the grindstone. He has just completed his first year in the Business Analytics programme but he still feels like a freshie. If there was an award for procrastination, Thiru thinks he’d probably be the one collecting it…later. He enjoys watching Last Week Tonight by John Oliver, cuddling his dog, hanging out with close friends, indulging his gym obsession at least thrice a week and speeding through empty trails on his bicycle. You may be surprised to know that he likes poetry, used to write often, loves to cook, and was a scrawny 38kgs in Secondary 3, unable to do more than two chin-ups. He can now do 15 chin-ups, with 15kgs of extra weight on him, and considers this one of his most significant achievements. When in need of a conversational ice-break, Thiru finds it useful to bring up the fact that he lives close to the Institute for Mental Health.

Describe your SoC experience.
To put it aptly, nothing short of a rollercoaster. Before school started, I was quite apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect. I nearly didn’t join FSC and only joined ‘cause my friend KP persuaded me to join, and I’m glad he did. The camps were really fun and I’m thankful to the previous FOP Comm who made such an experience possible! RAG was another event I didn’t expect joining but I’m glad I did. Most of the friends I made were through rag and the experience of performing for SoC is one I’ll hold dear for years to come. Frankly, I didn’t really care about the award that we got for rag as personally, I feel SoC’s Rag is more about the bonding and fun rather than mindlessly gearing for a coloured trinket, and that’s what matters the most for me. Proud to have represented SoC! [Now], I’m an OGL for the upcoming [SoC] Freshman Social camp, and was an ambassador for SoC during Open Day and the Information Session, where I shared the benefits of joining the SoC Family. I’m also currently the vice president of BreakiNUS, The NUS Bboy club. 
Studies wise. Oh man. I found it hard to catch up initially as I had forgotten nearly all of my JC stuff and was also new to programming! Gym-ing thrice a week and dancing twice a week wasn’t helping either HAHA! It was a struggle, but I (somehow) managed to pull through with the help of some great seniors and professors and scored decently for the exams in the end! 
Personally, I find that (no matter how many times it’s been said) SoC is unique in the sense of its homeliness. Everyone knows each other, and it’s more of a tightly knit family than a faculty.  That, to me, makes the experience all the more worthwhile.
[Some of the people who have made impressions on me are:]
Prof Ben Leong – the personification of the quote “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. Being rusty from NS and not familiar with programming at all, 1010S was a nightmare at the beginning with me being clueless at the end of every lecture, and the persistently looming deadlines brought immense pressure. I wasn’t doing very well and barely passed my midterms, but was still intent on getting an A for this mod. When I told him (about my intent), he laughed and challenged me to do it. However, the effort I put in didn’t translate to results and I was constantly underperforming especially during the practical exams. After much pain, one random day everything clicked, and I managed to hold up my end of the challenge in the end. Hopefully I made him proud, as I couldn’t have done it without his spurring!
Andrew KZK – One of the nicest people I’ve met who goes out of his way to help others! #kzkfanclub
Andre – My incredibly smart pseudo-Indian friend who inspires me to be better!
Too many people to mention, the awesome people from RAG, FSC, etc., who made the SOC experience awesome and made me proud to be from computing!

What do you count as your most significant achievement to date? 
Breaking out from a downward spiral in school, and getting into university with a scholarship in an area that I was interested in. 
[It required] a lot of stubbornness and sacrifice. Being from a Normal Academic background and having only combined science and no A-maths background, the JC syllabus was a really difficult challenge. Having a weak math and science background, it felt like running a race, except that I had weights on my ankles. Things that came naturally to others, took me twice as long as I had to understand the concepts that we were assumed to have known before starting that chapter (e.g. differentiation). 
This difficulty was compounded by financial and family problems which I had at that time as well. It took a lot of teeth-clenching to ignore the negatives, and to focus on the A-levels. I knew university was expensive, and I didn’t want to give my parents an additional financial burden. Thankfully in the end, I managed to do decently well. I applied for the NEWater scholarship, as the preservation of the environment and sustainable development were some of my key interest areas. I chose to do an internship first, instead of the normal interview process. 
The internship was one of the most challenging things that I’ve ever done! Normally interns did not have to carry out the assigned project, but my director had high expectations on me and wanted me to make it as well, and I was not one to let him down. Since nearly everything was banking on it, I was even working at home and through the weekends to complete the project by the deadlines. It was an insightful experience into working life and it felt immensely satisfying to see your project actually being used and benefiting the lives of people. It was quite unreal when I actually received the offer for the scholarship, after years of toiling for it. It was quite an irreplaceable feeling of elation, and the beginning of a new journey, which only gets tougher.
My Secondary 3 math teacher, Mr Tan, was the one who showed me that I could do it, that the past does not determine the future, and that the only limits (queue calculus joke) were the ones in your mind. If not for him, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today. Also, my 2 best friends who stuck by me during my most trying of times, and prevented me from choosing the easy option of giving up. 

I hear you’re a good break-dancer. Tell me about how you got into this.
Ah no I have a long way left to go to be called a good bboy, but I’m working towards it! I’ve always loved dance and wanted to learn popping / breaking since young! I was fascinated by the power moves (windmills, flares) that bboys did,  but I never got the opportunity to try as my house lacked space (once broke my fan trying a windmill in my house!) and I was lazy + shy to go to places like OSchool to learn. My first real exposure was during RAG when I joined the Bboy/Bgirl section of the dance. Shoutout to Leo, the choreographer of the bboy section who was a great teacher and taught us the moves patiently! After rag, I joined BreakiNUS, the NUS Bboy club which sessions every Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday and met a lot of really good people there who are willing to impart their skills, and inspire me to become a better dancer. I performed for CAC+US last year as part of the BreakiNUS Item and although the practices were intense and draining, (especially when combined with my normal exercise routines) in the end, it was really a rewarding experience that bonded me with the group!

What did you want to be when you were younger? 
HAHAH Oh man too many things! I remember when I was in primary school (I think) I wanted to be an air-con repairman! I thought they were like magicians who fixed magical boxes which spewed cold air! After that I wanted to be a garang guni man ‘cause I thought it would be fun travelling throughout Singapore and using that loud horn. Then sadly I grew older and got more ‘rational’ choices such as being a pilot or a teacher. The later part of secondary school / early JC I discovered I really liked making people laugh, and wanted to be a stand-up comedian!  I remember being quite serious about it and watched a whole host of comedians to see how they constructed their jokes, how they stood, engaged the audience, delivered their punchlines, etc. I even dreamt of having my own debut and came up with a bit of original material until… well… I guess life got in the way? Perhaps one day.

What is the funniest thing you’ve done?
Not in SoC, but one of the top entries in the list of stupid things I’ve done would acting suspicious with a group of my friends in a certain MRT station with a really, really long escalator, and when the security guard walked towards us, sprint to the escalator. You know the scene in cartoons where the chaser would be going down the escalator while the person being chased is on the opposite side and they stare at each other? We re-created that HAHA! We managed to escape, then came back a while later explaining it was just a joke. Lucky he had a sense of humour or I may not be doing this interview!

Quick-Fire: Worst fashion trend?
Crocs (by itself), jeans with slippers. Fedoras. Gais pls.

Worst fear?
Finding out one day that you wasted your life on achievements that don’t bring you happiness.

Pet peeves?
“Irregardless”, people with no sense of humour, and people who give up at their amazing dreams at the first inkling of difficulty. If it was easy, everybody would do it. If you want it, get off your sense of entitlement and work for it.

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